The Cel Shaded Report, 4/27: Child’s play, child’s day

May 5 is just around the corner, and while the numbers of those giant koinobori wind socks that flapped on virtually every street corner when I was growing up seem to have dwindled in recent years, there’s no denying that the traditional Japanese celebration of Boys Children’s Day is coming right along with that date.

But we’re all busy people these days. You don’t want to wait until May 5. You want to celebrate the boys children now. Fortunately, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii has you covered, with the Kodomo no Hi: Keiki Fun Fest taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Several groups with ties to the local anime/manga fan community will be there, including MangaBento, the artist group that’ll be bringing along a bunch of arts and crafts for people to work on; Kawaii Kon, offering information on next year’s convention; and HEXXP, offering information on their event this year. (I also have it on good authority that there’s going to be an announcement of the Next Big Thing for HEXXP at the event. It’s so big, you may want to tell your world about it. Just sayin’.) NGN will be screening Doraemon and Anpanman, and Hello Kitty will be one of several mascots wandering the aisles.

Also scheduled for the event: live entertainment, demonstrations, a craft fair, food, prize giveaways and the always fun, off-the-charts-in-cuteness keiki kimono dressing booth. As of yesterday, there were still slots available; cost is $75 ($60 if you’re a JCCH member), and includes the kimono and accessories, dressing by Masako Formals staff and the King Photo Service portrait-sitting fee. (Hair and makeup are not included, and the photos are extra.) Reserve a spot by calling Derrick Iwata at 945-7633, ext. 25.

The cultural center is at 2454 S. Beretania St. in Moiliili; for more information, visit the Kodomo no Hi Facebook page.

Anime around town

The idkwhat2wear gang will be selling buttons, T-shirts and more at the Moanalua High School Spring Craft Fair, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school, 2825 Ala Ilima St. Normally this is the part where I’d mention something about where to go for more information, but seeing as how “more information” doesn’t seem to exist anywhere on the Intarwebz, I’ll just offer two pieces of advice: One, if you want to park on campus, show up several hours before the parking lot gates open at 8 a.m. And two, bring an empty stomach. The food stuffs they sell on campus? Deeeelicious.

    The Cel Shaded Report, 4/11: Pen and ink words

    Remember last week’s Cel Shaded Report, where I mentioned that AniMaid Cafe Hawaii was taking applications for volunteers? It’s over. Thanks for applying, take care, drive home safely, perhaps we’ll do this again next year.

    The preceding 35 words could well have constituted the shortest Cel Shaded Report ever, but fortunately there’s another matter of immediate importance to discuss here, something you artsy types will want to jump on right away. Through Friday afternoon, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi isn’t just serving up new installments of the plush pup online comic; over at the nemu*blog, she’s offering commentary on some of her favorite writing and drawing tools and giving visitors a chance to get some of their own with a $25 gift certificate to JetPens.com, home to a large catalog of art supplies imported from Japan and Germany.

    Interested? Here’s all you have to do: Since yesterday and running through Friday, Audra will be writing one post a day that highlights some of the brands she likes to use in drawing nemu*nemu. In yesterday’s post, for example, she talked about her favorite brush pens. Today, she’s looking at coloring tools. Just leave a comment about what your favorite brands are in relation to the topic of the day — or which brands you’d love to have — and that’s it! You’re entered. Easy peasy. If you’d like to increase your chances of winning, just leave comments on all four posts; you can get one entry per post, for a maximum of four entries. One winner, to be drawn at 5 p.m. Hawaii time Friday (8 p.m. Pacific, 11 p.m. Eastern, for those of you reading this blog in other time zones *waves*), will win the gift certificate.

    Even if the extent of your artistic creativity is figuring out whether to use a smile or a frown on your stick figure drawing, Audra’s posts offer some neat insight into the making of nemu*nemu. And when you put it all of these techniques together, you get something like this, a commission I received as part of the recent nemu*nemu vol. 6 Kickstarter drive.

    With a Mr. Buns cameo!

    That’s Nemu, Enchilada and the Star-Advertiser’s own Blue, three “generations” of plush pups. All I told here was to use those three characters and use the theme of “festivals,” and that’s what she came up with. I see that every day sitting on my work desk. Still get a thrill looking at it every time. It is awesome.

    Get ready for Kawaii Kon … again!

    Hard to believe that we’re almost a month removed from this year’s Kawaii Kon, but, as the closing ceremonies proved, convention officials aren’t wasting any time getting attendees hyped up for the next show. After an April Fool’s joke newsletter placed Kawaii Kon 2012-1/2 in Cordoba, Spain, in late October (darn, and I was so ready to get my passport papers in order and whip up an Enchilada costume to get ready to cover it … but only if it didn’t conflict with HEXXP, because, come on, there’s Nobuo Uematsu and the World Cosplay Summit in my virtual back yard, man!), the real newsletter revealed some information about preregistration for 2013 for people who didn’t already do so at this year’s convention.

    The day that preregistration is happening is fast approaching. It opens online on Sunday, in fact. For the time being, prices will be set at $38 for general admission three-day passes (for ages 12 and up), and $30 for three-day passes for children ages 6 to 12. If you want a lifetime pass, prices of those are now up to $850. You can pick up those at kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com.

    While you can’t preregister until Sunday, there are a few con-related things you can work on now, if you’re so inclined. The annual Mascot Art Contest, running through midnight Hawaii time April 27, is currently accepting entries; just draw one, two or all three of the Kawaii Kon mascots — Nami, Takeshi and Ai-chan — in traditional or digital media. The artist whose entry is deemed most representative of the mascots and the Kawaii Kon spirit will win a three-day pass to Kawaii Kon 2013. Find complete rules and how to enter pieces at  www.kawaii-kon.org/community/kawaii-kon-2012-art-contest-rules/.

    Applications for panels for next year’s event are also being accepted now. If you’ve ever wanted to lead a spirited hour-long discussion over, say, whether Pokemon Red/Blue or Pokemon Black/White had the better debuting bunch of Pokemon, now’s your chance. (For the record: It has to be Red/Blue. Jigglypuff, Chansey and Psyduck for the win, people.) If you and a co-host can figure out a way to fill three hours’ worth of con programming, you both could also receive complimentary three-day passes for your efforts.

    Kawaii Kon is March 15-17; visit www.kawaii-kon.org.

    Anime around town

    Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening the first four episodes of Fairy Tail. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

    The Cel Shaded Report, 3/29: A sketching situation

    pen and ink works logo

    One of the neat things about local anime and manga fandom is how it’s spawned an entire generation of people eager to whip out their sketchbooks and draw things inspired by the series that they love. I’ve seen that talent manifest itself in the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest for the past two years now, MangaBento’s art exhibits, and the Artist Alley at Kawaii Kon and HEXXP, and the art’s been really, really nice.

    Well, it’s time once again to nurture that talent. Pen & Ink Works has a neat event coming up from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday to do just that — a Sketch Meet where artists can hang out, participate in some drawing games and trade tips with one another. All you need is a sketchbook, some drawing materials (naturally), a mat or a towel … and some good walking shoes. Some sunscreen may be in order as well.

    For while the event will be starting off in front of Shirokiya — Ala Moana, second floor, just look for them somewhere between the entrance to Macy’s and the KZOO studio — they’ll be migrating eventually to Magic Island, across the street. By the way, for the curious, as of this writing the National Weather Service forecast is for mostly sunny conditions with a 20 percent chance of showers, breezy and a high near 75. So unless you have to spend the afternoon, say, in an office working on polishing up the next day’s news for the people (sadly raises hand), it sounds like a creative, lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon and take in another nice day here on the island.

    Learn more about Pen & Ink Works at peninkworks.wordpress.com or their Facebook page.

    nakamaboko2Writing about this Sketch Meet also reminded me that I have yet to discuss in this space MangaBento’s upcoming exhibit, “Nakamaboko: Working Together.” Scheduled to run from June 12 through July 14, the exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (formerly the Academy Art Center at 1111 Victoria St.) will feature art pieces in various media (drawings, paintings, sculptures, photos, costumes and the like) that are inspired by anime and manga. To that end, the group will be accepting community submissions.  Most of the deadlines are in May — and I’ll include reminders in this space as we approach those deadlines — but if you want to get a head start and mail something in now, you can do so. Send your pieces in by May 23 to:

    Devin Oishi
    Art Instructor
    Kaimuki High School
    2705 Kaimuki Ave.
    Honolulu, HI 96816

    Be sure to include your name; age; school and teacher (if applicable); whether you’re a pro, amateur, or student; address; phone number; email address; and a sale price if you want to sell your piece. A complete rundown of requirements is available at the Nakamaboko page at www.manga-bento.com.

    [Kawaii Kon 2012] Panel discussions: Horikawa, Miya and Amano

    “Meet Ryo Horikawa and Kenichi Miya”

    Putting your heart and spirit into whatever role you play is key to a good voice actor, Japanese actor Ryo Horikawa emphasized.

    It’s that same heart that allows him to differentiate which American voice actors are good. “It’s about knowing the character, giving life to the character,” Horikawa said.

    Kawaii Kon marks Horikawa’s first visit to Hawaii, along with fellow seiyuu (voice actor) Kenichi Miya. The two shared a panel on Friday, talking about their careers, their inspirations and the industry in general. That’s Miya on the left, Horikawa on the right.

    miya_horikawa

    With decades of voice acting under his belt, Horikawa now runs a school for aspiring seiyuu. When asked whether it’s better for an actor to have a wide range of voices or to concentrate on one role, “It’s hard to say,” he replied. “There are those who can do multiple and are good and there are those who are known for one voice.” What’s most important, he said, is to “enhance what you’re good at no matter what type you are.”

    Concentration is another key aspect to what Horikawa does. Because he’s played so many different characters over the years, he said he has to completely ignore all his other roles when he goes to voice another one. “It was challenging to play Vegeta at the same time I played a very justice-driven character with a baby face,” he said through translator Sachi Kaaihue, that latter description likely referring to Reinhard von Lohengramm from Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    As for Miya, he’s a student at Horikawa’s school and said that meeting Horikawa-sensei and coming to Hawaii are the defining moments of his career.

    Not that Horikawa seems to regard himself as such. Despite the noteworthy roles he’s played — he’s most well-known as the voice of the angry Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z, but he’s also done Heiji Hattori in Case Closed and Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya — he downplayed it when Kaaihue called him “sensei” when introducing him at the start of the panel.

    It’s probably because Horikawa regards himself as an eternal student, always looking ahead to the next role. When asked about his own defining moment, he said he loved all the characters he played. “The most important thing for me is to feel the new power inside,” he said, adding that he constantly wants a challenge, so he looks forward to the next job that could very well be the best of his career.

    In fact, his latest role is one that he’s quite excited about. He has both a voice and a production role in Magical Dreamers, a new type of manga coming out for iOS and Android devices. Not only is it bilingual, it’s also interactive, with voices as well as printed text. (Jason will have more from that panel later.)

    Both Horikawa and Miya said they enjoy their careers for the different lives in which they can immerse themselves. For Horikawa, the character of Vegeta is an excuse for him to yell all the time. “It makes me feel fun and excited. … I’m usually not like that in real life,” he said.

    Miya is the same. He gets to go on adventures, go to war, and have relationships with the ladies — things that, he said through a translator, he probably would never get to experience in real life. (I’d argue against “relationships” being included in the “things Miya will not experience” list, though.)

    But no matter what that next role might be, whether it be a teenage boy or an angry alien or something completely different, Horikawa’s up for the challenge. He’s pushing the e-manga as well as working to make his voice acting school truly international, so he’s still got a lot more on his plate.

    “Face to Face: Yoshitaka Amano”

    The same passion for his work can be found in Yoshitaka Amano. Wearing a just-purchased aloha shirt, the artist and character designer described how the vast majority of his artistic inspiration actually came from American sources.

    He was a huge fan of Disney characters, he said, having grown up watching the cartoons. In the 1970s, when he was in his 20s, he was influenced by American pop artists such as Andy Warhol, and also by American psychedelic art. He was working in anime at the time, and those influences made their way into his character designs.

    amano

    Amano likes every character he draws — or at least he tries to, he said. Like Horikawa, he immerses himself into the person being drawn. “Even if it’s a bad guy or girl, there’s always something appealing,” he said through a translator. He really becomes the person, to the point where, if it’s a scary character, he said, he tends to become a little scary in real life.

    But, he hastened to add, he usually forgets most of it after he’s done, so fans can be assured that Amano won’t stay a scary evil guy forever.

    Still, Amano apparently better enjoys drawing the bad guys. Actually, he specifically said he enjoys doing the “cool” designs, which most often turn out to be the bad guys. He cited the vampire hunter D as an example of a design he’s proud of.

    And in a declaration that warms my fangirl heart, Amano said that out of all the Final Fantasy games he’s worked on, he loved FF6 the most, although he couldn’t say exactly why that was so. In admitting that for the most part he likes easy, “comfortable” drawings because there’s less pressure involved, he pointed to FF6’s Moogle and Tina (called Terra in the English version of the game) as favorites.

    But even with all the fame he’s accrued, Amano said he always harbored doubts as to the quality of his work. Did people like his art for itself, or did people like it because they enjoyed the game, anime, or other product that it was associated with? This was one main reason he said he stepped away from character design and went into the fine arts, which comprises about 90 percent of his work now. He’s even held a few museum exhibits of his artwork. All of what he described as “getting outside his small box” served to challenge his talent by having viewers focus on his art rather than the game or animated series.

    Amano advises other artists to be the same way. For example, when designing a dragon, he said, we are influenced by what others have drawn before. But he “tries to interpret what’s in (my) own mind,” he said. “If you do that, you can be very different in drawing. Being different is important.”

    Another key piece of advice: Love what you do. “Then you will work hard and if people don’t recognize you, you will still be satisfied,” he said.

    Then in a complete 180, Amano gave this last piece of advice: Don’t listen to his advice. When asked what kind of counsel he’s received from other artists, he said he neither received any nor gave much to others. Which is good, he said, “because (I) learned to come up with (my) own ideas.” He finished: “Think for yourself. … Keep inspiration close to your heart.”

    355 days later, a festival renewed

    IMG_4492The Honolulu Festival, a celebration of all things Asian-and-Pacific-Rim culture, is this weekend. Having attended it for the past three years, I consider it one of those Really Big Deals on the local otaku community schedule, an event where you feel like you’re missing something if you skip it. I take a bunch of pictures and post them here, just to emphasize that fact. Yet while I went last year, all I’ve managed to post since then are a handful of pictures, the promise of more dangled like a fresh, crisp carrot in front of your eyes, just out of reach.

    Let’s correct that. Just in time for the 2012 Honolulu Festival, here are highlights from those pictures I shot from the 2011 Honolulu Festival. Better late than not at all, right? Continue reading “355 days later, a festival renewed”

    Introducing Otaku Ohana, version 2.0!

    Ever since tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I were handed the keys to our own little corner of the Star-Bulletin blogging kingdom in June 2009, we’ve had one mission in mind: to provide as much exposure as we could to anime, manga, and the local and national fan communities that power those industries. Otaku Ohana, as I explained back then, was meant to be an extension of my print column, Cel Shaded:

    What I’ve discovered over the years, though, is that one column a week is hardly enough to contain all the anime and manga news that comes down the pipeline. For every one topic that I’ve covered in print, there have been at least two or three others I’ve passed up. And then there’s the poor, often neglected “Random Plugging” section. In theory, it was supposed to ease the backlog of anime and manga that we have yet to review. In practice, columns kept filling up without the help of “Random Plugging,” and now we have a backlog of several hundred series, partial and complete, that we have yet to comment on in any form. (I wish I was exaggerating with that number.) So it’s time for the next evolution.

    Fast forward several years to the present. Some things have changed: Cel Shaded now exists only as an online extension to Otaku Ohana; the Star-Bulletin merged with the Honolulu Advertiser and became the Star-Advertiser; and it seems like our coverage is leaning more toward coverage of the local fan community. Other things haven’t: That review backlog still remains at several hundred series, mostly as the free time that Wilma and I have has evaporated before our very eyes. (We’re really trying to do more reviews this year, though! Really!) And, of course, Otaku Ohana’s been housed on the last regularly updated outpost of the starbulletin.com domain, blogs.starbulletin.com.

    Until today.

    Following the lead of fellow starbulletin.com blogger Nadine Kam and her Fashion Tribe — and after kicking the tires and making sure everything is in working order — I’m pleased to announce that all updates for Otaku Ohana going forward will be made on our shiny new site (which actually looks exactly like our old site, but ehh, details, details), http://otakuohana.staradvertiserblogs.com. All our old content won’t be going anywhere; it’ll still be archived at http://blogs.starbulletin.com/otakuohana for the foreseeable future.

    I wanted to write a post about all the possible name changes we could’ve given the blog in its new phase, including:

    • Otaku Ohana 2: Electric Boogaloo
    • Otaku Ohana: Now With Bears (a nod to the Xbox 360 sequel to Kinectimals)
    • Super Otaku Ohana Turbo Hyper Championship Edition

    Wilma groaned and put the kibosh on the idea immediately.

    So I’ll just say this: Don’t forget to point your browsers and update your bookmarks and RSS feeds to reflect our new home on the web. Regular programming will begin shortly. We thank you for your continued patronage. And since the first-ever post in Otaku Ohana ended, for some weird reason that rests with 2009-era me, with a random link to a music video about some plants and some zombies, I’ll end this post with an equally random link to a journalist interviewing a wrestler in the Nintendo Wii game Rhythm Heaven Fever.

    Yes, that new tune’s firmly wedged itself in my brain, too.